Sunday, August 10, 2008

Toilet, Loo, WC, Outhouse

Regardless of what you call it or where is it located, no civilized person can be without a toilet. The fixture in our large bathroom had been acting up for over a year. We had the handyman repair on more than one occasion, so when he gets our message now, he just ignores us. He seemed to think that telling us the internal organs of the tank could not survive a transplant. They just don't make those parts any longer. Our only recourse was to replace the whole contraption, which of course, we did not want to hear. After months of having the water gush after every flush, it started working on my nerves. The sneaky thing would give us the false sense of security that all was well, but ten minutes later, it started pouring water like Victoria Falls. It was so loud it woke me from a sound sleep more than once. The last straw or the last drop was having to shake the handle every fifteen minutes to maintain peace, save the planet from water wasting, and control my paranoia about flooding. Unlike American handles, the handle on these toilets are on the top and pull upward. A couple of times in a somatic coma, I damn near pulled the handle right off. Toilet shopping was in the cards. My trusty and faithful student Balazs went with me to three toilet stores addresses stored in the recesses of my mind for just such a day. Ron reminded me of just such a store around the corner and two blocks down, so we went there first. Support your neighborhood businesses is my motto. A simple toilet was 78,000 Huf. At today's exchange rate that is $553.00, yet this does not include delivery, which would have been another 9,000 Huf. The kicker was that it would take a month to order it. Screw the support of neighborhood businesses. Balazs and I combed the city to the three addresses I recalled seeing bathroom supplies. Being Hungary, none of the three existed any longer. One was now a kitchen supplier, so B asked if the man knew where the previous business may have moved, but the guy was indignant that we should associate the two businesses. We finally got some leads at the new leasee of the second location and actually found two stores within a block. One was a repeat of our local store: 79,000 Huf and one month delivery. The second store was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: 38,000 Huf, 5,500 for delivery, and it could be had within three days. Here was the snag. Did we need a bottom flusher or a to the wall flusher? Hell if I knew. With a print out of the sales specs, we went home to find a plumber. Obviously, this was a major deal. Our new friend Steve, recommended his handyman. Our once reliable, trusty one has disappeared or is afraid we only want a quick fix and not an overhaul. The new handyman came and proclaimed we had a bottom flusher. Ron was quick with questions of me about toilet fixture culture that I could not answer and he chose not to join us on the shopping expedition, so he was granted with chore of returning to make the purchase. Three days later, the toilet arrived as promised and decorated our bedroom. Not surprisingly, the handyman was now overwhelmed with work and could not get back to us for a week. When he did grace us with his presence, he only came to admire our new fixture, but had yet to touch it. He returned two days later. After the old toilet was out, he commenced installing our new loo, but alas a two centimeter difference appeared between the bottom of our toilet and the pipe it had to sit on. Without the necessary supplies, we would be without a toilet until he could round them up. Whoever said size does not make a difference has never had to replace a toilet. Two days passed before he returned this past Friday. With three more men to root him on, the four of them managed to make our new throne servicable. Friday night, Ron put something in the microwave. All of the electric on that side of the kitchen blew out. The refrigerator was on that circuit. After checking the circuit breakers, the problem was not there. I had thoughts of a big B-B-Q on Saturday with all of our thawed meat. Very concerned about the newly bought container of ice cream that just went in that morning, we had to polish it off so it would not spoil. We did not open the doors, lest we let hot air in. Nine at night, I called Balazs and gave him the number of an electrician we used in the past. He is a young guy, friendly and reasonable in his rates. I sincerely considered finding a genie in a bottle to wish for getting an electrician on a Saturday morning. When Balazs called me back, he said the saintly electrician would be here between 9:30 and 10:30 on Saturday. At 10:00 he arrived. If we had a red carpet, we would have spread it before him. The problem was not the circuit breaker, but in the wall. He had it fixed in 15 minutes for 5,000 Huf ($35.). Ron thought that was excessive for the amount of time it took, but I thought it was a bargain for a Saturday, getting him here at the time he said and the savings of all of the meat in the freezer, which was still hard as a rock. It makes me rethink again about how we have lost touch with the cost of things in the States, especially California, where we paid electricians substantially more.

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